The Ultimate Fountain Drink Machine [Kicking Back With Jersey Joe]
Over 100 soft drink choices are now available, all at the touch of a button, and you’re in full control! Back to the Future could have never predicted the amazing touch screen soft drink machine now appearing across the US. It will change the way you quench your thirst!
The Coca-Cola Freestyle is a brand new, high tech, touch screen soda fountain that allows customers to choose their beverage with over a hundred different flavor combinations (some can offer up to 125). Many of these flavors have never before been seen in the United States.
These fountains have been in the works since 2005 and testing began in 2009 in Utah, Southern California, and Georgia. 500 machines were sent to various restaurant chains in July 2010 and their numbers continue to grow.
The high tech computer that drives the fountain not only helps you navigate to the beverage of your choice, but also tracks which flavors are running low, and records strategic marketing data that is instantly sent back to Coke. They can also troubleshoot themselves and send any error data back to the company.
The machines are set up similar to an ATM. Each features a large touch screen, standard ice cube dispenser, and only one button.
First, the customer decides on one of the base beverages by pressing the logo on the touch screen. Base beverages usually include:
Caffeine Free Diet Coke
Minute Maid Lemonade
Minute Maid Light Lemonade
Diet Dr Pepper
Seagram’s Lemon Lime Seltzer
While most flavors are available at any given time, not all of these choices are available at every location.
The customer is then presented with a second screen where, in addition to the base drink pre-selected, flavor combinations are available.
Coca-Cola – Vanilla, Lime, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Cherry Vanilla
Diet Coke – Vanilla, Vanilla with Lime, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Cherry Vanilla
Coca-Cola Zero – Cherry, Vanilla, Cherry Vanilla, Orange, Lime, Raspberry, Lemon
Caffeine Free Diet Coke – Vanilla, Lime, Orange, Raspberry, Cherry, Cherry Vanilla
Sprite – Cherry, Strawberry, Grape, Peach, Raspberry, Orange, Vanilla
Sprite Zero – Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Grape, Peach, Orange, Vanilla
Fanta – Orange, Fruit Punch, Lime, Grape, Strawberry, Peach, Raspberry, Cherry
Fanta Zero – Orange, Peach, Lime, Grape, Strawberry, Fruit Punch, Raspberry, Cherry
Minute Maid Lemonade – Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Fruit Punch
Minute Maid Light Lemonade – Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Fruit Punch
Dasani – Lime, Peach, Grape, Orange, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Lemon
Dasani Sensations – Lime, Peach, Grape, Strawberry, Orange, Raspberry, Cherry, Lemon
Powerade – Fruit Punch, Raspberry, Cherry, Lemon, Orange, Lime, Grape, Strawberry
Powerade Zero – Fruit Punch, Raspberry, Cherry, Lemon, Orange, Lime, Grape, Strawberry
Hi-C – Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Fruit Punch, Grape, Raspberry Lime, Orange Vanilla
Mello Yello – Cherry, Grape, Orange, Peach
Pibb Xtra – Cherry, Cherry Vanilla
Pibb Zero – Cherry, Cherry Vanilla
Dr Pepper – Cherry, Cherry Vanilla
Diet Dr Pepper – Cherry, Cherry Vanilla
Barq’s – Vanilla
Diet Barq’s – Vanilla
You fill your cup with ice and then place it under the dispenser center. Press the large circular PUSH button and hold down to fill your glass with your desired drink. You can even stop half way and mix and match as a co-worker of mine, did. That’s it… pop the lid on and enjoy. Operating the machine is so super-simple, my grandmother could handle it.
Many of these exotic flavors have never before been available to the general public. Orange Coke was once only served in Russia and the Baltics, but is now available here thanks to this machine.
The flavors inside are stored on small cartridges with super concentrated ingredients, which are then simply replaced when a that flavor gets low. Think of them as glorified printer ink cartridges.
The computer keeps track of the inventory and alerts both the restaurant and Coke when flavors or base drinks need replenishing. Using these micro-cartridges eliminates the need for restaurants to use the traditional large five gallon bags of syrup at older fountains and allows for more space to handle all the flavor combinations.
In New York City, the Coca-Cola Freestyle has begun to appear at several McDonald’s restaurants throughout the city, including a few around Times Square.
I gave it a try at the 3rd Avenue McDonald’s (between 84th & 85th Streets) on the Upper East Side. Upon ordering your Extra Value Meal, you are handed an empty cup and then proceed to one of two Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
My first thought was these looked like the self checkout machines that are appearing in more and more stores. I can’t tell you how many times I got stuck behind someone who was baffled by one of those machines.
But, this was not the case with the Coca-Cola Freestyle. I hit it at the busy New York lunch hour, and while there was a line to order food, the line behind each machine was only one or two deep, and moved along rather quickly. New Yorkers were having no problem and it was really a great thing to see.
For my first experience, I wanted to try a flavor that I could not possibly find anywhere else. I went with the Mello Yello Peach. It was absolutely tasty, with a generous amount of syrup and fizz. It would really not be cost effective for Coke to bottle this product, as there most likely would not be a high demand, but having these machines makes this flavor combo possible.
In 2009, CNBC presented a special on the global reaching of the Coca-Cola Empire. The very last segment of the show discussed the products the company was working on for the future and the Freestyle machine was presented.
Last summer, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey was one of the first locations in New Jersey to obtain the new Freestyle machine. They built an entire store and turned it into an attraction. Rope lines were used to sucker in thirsty patrons with souvenir bottles that you would fill on your own for a hefty $12! Upon seeing the price, many families immediately stormed out, as did my group. Way to go Six Flags, I love how you try to shamelessly gore every nickel and dime out of your customers. In this case, many weren’t buying.
New machines continue to be installed at various locations coast to coast; from drug stores, to theatres, to stadiums, highway rest areas, other fast food restaurants, and even on college campuses! There is an interactive map on the Coca-Cola Freestyle Facebook page and to find one near you, just enter your zip code.
You won’t have to wonder where they are for much longer. Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Firehouse Subs plan to install one at every location and Burger King will also install these machines at all 850 company owned restaurants by the end of the year.
Soda fountains account for 30% of all Coke sales per year in the US and according to online reports, sales have risen 20% in stores where one has been installed.
On January 6, the company installed the 2,000th US machine.
Name: Coca-Cola Freestyle
What: new, high-tech, self serve soft drink machines
Number of Flavors: over 100 (some can hold up to 125)
JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Absolutely a can’t miss. My blogumn is all about pop culture, making life easier and more fun, and this machine covers all three. A quick look at their Facebook page reveals loads of happy drinkers.
The kids will never get bored with the wide selection of flavors. The machines are so simple to use… all you got to do is point to your flavor and fill the cup.
You’re on your own when filling your cup. There is no size button, so fill the glass as much as you want, just be careful not to overflow!
I applaud Coke and all the restaurants that are rolling this out. Pepsi will certainly fall behind in the cola wars once more of these machines are available. It’s a Coke creation and exclusive to their products for now. We can only hope that Pepsi-Co has something similar up their sleeves.
The health conscious aren’t left in the dark on this, either. A wide variety of diet sodas, flavored waters, and seltzers are also available. So take a second and give this a try – there’s definitely a flavor for everyone. What will I try next?